Complaining about customer service Complaining about faulty goods

15 Great words to use in complaints

How to express yourself well when writing a complaint email/letter

You should always write wherever possible when you need to complain. This is for a number of reasons. See Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively It is easy to be tempted into being aggressive or abusive when you are really frustrated with being fobbed off. However, this will not get you the best results. See Top 20 tips for complaining effectively which will give you lots of pointers in what to put in your email or letter.

So now you are all set to write your letter of complaint! Here I provide some of the best words to use in your complaints!

This is a list of excellent words that I frequently use in complaint correspondence. Remember you should always remain objective when it comes to describing events. You can however say how you feel about them. Don’t exaggerate, be honest. Various words carry differing levels of strength so you should use what you believe is appropriate and proportionate to the issue. You should use these words carefully. Only a couple is fine you really don’t need to use them all in the one piece of correspondence! And remember don’t use all capitals which is the equivalent of shouting.

Words can often be used with “really”,  “absolutely”, “blatantly” and “utterly”


You can use these words when describing the service you have received about a faulty item or poor service etc. This will help when you include your rights under the relevant laws, in particular the Consumer Rights Act 2015 

More help with consumer rights and how to assert them

Complaining about goods and services – all you need to know

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


You can also get more advice, tips, information and templates for your letters and further information in the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, redress & Results!



email icon


If you don’t want to wait you can Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress to help with most issues.






What words do you like to use in your complaint correspondence?

5 top tips for complaining effectively

BBC Breakfast 23/08/19 Helen Dewdney discusses the Which? customer service survey

Complaining about faulty goods

How to complain about an item over a year old

Note – This is an old post. For purchases made before October 1st 2015 please see Consumer Rights Act 2015. The below will only apply for purchases made before this date.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979/Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994

Generally speaking if the item is less than 6 months old and the item is faulty then the consumer should receive a full refund (minus any depreciation of value of use, e.g. a car used for 4 months has had some use and will have depreciated in value) a replacement or a repair. After 6 months it is up to the customer to prove that the fault was there at point of purchase. However, only take this as a guideline. When my son said that we should complain and take something back to a pound shop, even I drew the line! But there are cases when you can and should claim redress after 6 months. (More on laws protecting you from faulty purchases here.)

A faulty sofa
Damaged sofa

A friend of mine had bought a sofa over a year ago from a mail order company, Studio. It was clearly faulty and she was having difficulty getting a full refund. I took to writing an email for the CEO. I stated that there were 2 really sharp metal rods (thin ones) poking through out of the fabric, so when hands are put down the middle bit of the sofa it really hurts, obviously. Karen had only done this once now knowing it is was there, however, the item is clearly faulty and she has very young children to consider. Originally she was told that because she had had the bed more than a year there was nothing that could be done. However, once this was checked further (with one assumes, the legal department) she was told that it would have to go to quality control. Karen was promised a call back that never came and she had to chase it up and get a form to fill in and request to send photos of the issue which she did. The proof of postage for this was available. Again she had to chase and ‘phone again to be told that her letter had not arrived. Since then a leg has literally snapped off when she sat on the end causing her to fall. It was now obviously not level.

The sofa was clearly faulty and under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 she was entitled to a full refund. It was easily proven that the fault was there from the start and so the fact that she had had this item for over a year is irrelevant. In addition to the full refund I expected them to arrange for removal of the sofa and provide redress for the inconvenience caused, not least the damage to Karen’s hand, the time spent on the matter and the stress involved. Karen had not been able to use the sofa bed and so also expected redress for this particularly in light of Studio’s delayed and non-existent responses pro longing the matter.

I added my usual see you in court line if not satisfied with the response…


Karen received a replacement (which is what she wanted) plus £50.

You should persevere when met with fob offs .

See Top 20 tips for effective complaining for lots of advice.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For consumer laws, information, advice and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!



5 top tips for complaining effectively